I finished a draft of another section of the dissertation last night. That section asserted that gratefulness needs to be expressed by one citizen to another, always, for ungratefulness makes benefactors feel like they’re lower than dirt. The teaching by Xenophon regarding citizenship stands in stark contrast to “enlightened self-interest,” where our greed produces the specialization and progress which makes us all comfortable in our own property. We don’t need to talk to each other on this latter theory.
The section I’m working on now grapples with fraternity: do we need to be friends? Of course we can’t be friends with all citizens, but the notion of friendship so prevalent among my generation – where “friend” is synonymous with “friend with benefits” and “drinking buddy” in many cases – is this notion acceptable? For Aristotle, the highest sort of friendship aimed at virtue: because we each want to be better, we work with each other and take each other seriously.
It looks like friendship may inform citizenship in a critical way: to know how to make and deal with friends is to know how to deal with people generally, including people who aren’t friends.
The two sections are not alien to one another. The thing I most regret is neglecting those who have done me so much good. What is darkest is my own memory with regards to my true benefactors, and it is darkest partly because saying “thank you” isn’t a virtue for us. More important to us is independence, and the security property affords.
A few who were very special to me only understood people as their own property – love was about possession simply. What is curious is how remembrance is a possession that isn’t a possession; a likeness “is” inasmuch it literally “is not.” To appreciate is an inward movement outward: the self-knowledge gained in taking something seriously leads back to the creator or giver of that something.